Deciding to Agree: Explaining Consensual Behavior on the United States Supreme Court
41 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2008
How, in a time of increasing divisiveness and party polarization - a divisiveness that is evident in the public, in Congress, and within the Supreme Court itself - does the Court ever achieve consensus? In this paper we examine how the Supreme Court achieves consensus in its decision-making, and what factors affect the level of consensus that is achieved by the Court. We examine all cases decided between 1953 and 2006 to determine what factors influence the Court's ability to achieve consensus in these cases. We find that consensus is more likely when the justices are ideologically compatible and when the case is easy.
Keywords: supreme court, judicial decision-making, unanimity, judicial legitimacy
JEL Classification: D72, K40, K10
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